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National Reflections

How to think biblically in times of political chaos.

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This past week, our elders met to pray and talk about our church and the level of churning in our nation these days around issues of political decisions and tone and divisiveness. The consensus was that if we're in a series called "Flourishing," we need to take a week and talk together about how to follow Jesus in a politically challenging climate.

I ended up scrapping the sermon I was going to do and writing this one, which our elders have all read and on which we all stand together.

If you've been around our church long, you know we have a deep commitment to being a Jesus-centered church and not to allow our mission to be distracted by any political agenda. That will never change. People will sometimes ask, "Is your church right-wing or left-wing?" The answer is that we're for the whole bird.

If we were to respond to every political controversy that comes up, we'd end up talking about political policy every week. That we won't do. However, over the past few weeks, we have received so many questions from so many people of all different political positions asking for teaching on how to think Biblically these days. It seemed clear to our elders that to simply remain silent would be sending the wrong message.

So I want to ask you: Will you let me pastor you this weekend? Will you be willing to put aside fear or anger or judgement and together be open and humble before God's Word and God's Spirit for these next moments?

I believe God is calling us to be our best selves in this moment. Jesus said to his followers, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden" (Matt. 5:14). I believe God is willing and able to help us become that light, if we will humble ourselves together before him.

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John Ortberg is pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.

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John Wecks

April 24, 2017  4:06pm

Pastor Ortberg's message comes out of the crucible of the burden of shepherding a diverse group of people. His words show pastoral and biblical sensitivity. The Bible has much more to say that would have improved this sermon, such as unpacking the idea behind the sin of "selfish ambition" as it relates to Christians dabbling in political matters. I am thankful that John Ortberg has courageously addressed these turbulent times.

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